God really wants to hear from
us. So prayer ought to be a regular and important part of
a disciple’s life. This chapter looks at what prayer
is about and how to make your prayers effective and powerful.
1 Kings 18:36-46
Elijah was a man of God-he prayed to God, he worshipped God
and he obeyed God. Elijah prayed earnestly and the Lord responded
mightily with fire from heaven. Later, when Elijah knelt on
the ground in prayer, the Lord heard him and brought rain
to the drought-stricken land.
1. What two types of prayer are described in this passage?
2. In each case, what physical position was Elijah in? Does
physical position matter in prayer?
3. Elijah believed that his prayer for rain would be answered,
so he kept sending his servant to look for rain. Should believers
expect prayer to be answered before it actually is? (Look
at Mark 11:24).
We need to pray - Jeremiah 33:3, Philippians
4:6, Ephesians 6:18, Luke 18:1
Making prayer live
Expressing your thoughts and feelings to God by words, song,
music or meditation is what prayer is all about. It is part
of your relationship with the Father. Conversation is an important
part of any relationship and requires effort. Make the effort
and your prayers will live-God will listen. Here are some
aspects of good conversation that you can apply in prayer:
say what is important and get to the point-be specific;
• think about what you’re going to say before
you say it;
• tell the truth;
• don’t be selfish;
• listen rather than just talk;
• follow up after the conversation.
Exercise: Consider these six points.
How do these apply to your prayers? Write down three things
that can be improved in your conversations with God.
promise to answer
34:15; Jeremiah 29:12-13 Malachi 3:16; Matthew 7:7-11;
John 14:13-14; 15:7,16; 16:23-24; 1 John 5:14-15.
for regular prayer
6:10,13; Psalm 5:3; 55:17; 62:8; Luke 18:1; Acts 10:9,30;
Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians
5:17; 1 Timothy 2:8.
to effective prayer
66:18; Proverbs 15:8,29; 28:9; Jeremiah 11:14; Mark 11:25-26;
1 Peter 3:7.
to pray about
34:1; 96:2; 145:1-3; Matthew 5:44; Luke 21:36; Ephesians
5:20; Philippians 1:3-11; 1 Timothy 2:1-6; James 1:5-8.
teaching on prayer
6:5-15; 18:19; 21:22; Mark 11:24-25; Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-14.
Where and when to pray
Bible examples of prayer show that it is acceptable to pray
anywhere, any time, for anything. If you pray with the right
attitude, it doesn’t matter to God where you pray. God
cares about what you have to say.
Elisha shut the door and prayed;
Peter prayed on the roof;
Nehemiah prayed silently before the king;
Daniel prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem;
Cornelius prayed at the ninth hour.
You don’t need a lot of time to pray properly. However,
some quiet time with God each day is necessary for a healthy
relationship with him. Set aside time for concentrated prayer
each day-time in the day when you are not going to be interrupted,
when you are on your own with God.
physical position makes you feel most respectful when you
pray? Elijah put his head between his knees, Solomon spread
out his hands toward heaven and David sat before the Lord.
Your frame of mind is affected by your position. Next time
you pray, think about what position you are in. Could it be
Praying with friends or family can be very rewarding. Initially,
it can be difficult speaking about personal things to others,
but it becomes easier. Do you pray with
others? Sharing your thoughts and feelings (even your
faults-James 5:16) makes you feel closer to your friends/family,
it helps others support and encourage you, and it forces you
to concentrate on prayer. If you feel that your prayers need
improvement, then try praying with someone else. The early
believers considered prayer one of the most important parts
of their new life:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching
and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
What should I pray for?
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you . . . If you, then,
though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your
children, how much more will your Father in heaven give
good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
is your father and cares about you just like a father cares
about his child. On another occasion, Jesus said
If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever
you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7)
See also John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24;
1 John 5:14-15
He really wanted to get this message across. Three times he
said it in the space of an hour or two. God wants us to ask.
He is waiting for us to ask. He takes pleasure in answering.
So what does God want you to pray for? Think about the examples
Paul prayed for other people’s spiritual maturity;
Daniel thanked the Lord three times a day;
Believers prayed for Peter in prison;
Jesus prayed for protection for his disciples;
Paul asked for the “thorn in his flesh” to
Hannah asked for a son.
doesn’t always answer the way we might want. For example,
God did not remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”.
what we want is not what God knows we need.
Jesus taught the disciples how to pray by giving them the
Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:6-15) as an example. It is
simple, short and specific, and it includes praise, requests,
confession and forgiveness. We could also add thanks as an
important part of prayer.
Why did Jesus say to ask for daily needs
when God already knows what they are?
When God says “no”
When you pray for something, and God does not give it to you,
don’t become disheartened or begin to doubt that God
hears you. Instead, ask yourself the following questions.
1. Am I asking for the wrong thing? God has promised to
give what we ask provided it is “according to his
will” (1 John 5:14-15). Is this
why God didn’t remove Paul’s “thorn in
It can be hard to decide if you are asking for something
according to God’s will. God may want you to survive
a rough time to help your spiritual development, or perhaps
he has something better for you just around the corner.
2. Am I praying regularly about it? God wants you to persist,
don’t just ask once or twice and then give up.
See Luke 18:1-8 If it’s
important, then show God you think it’s important
by asking earnestly, specifically and regularly. “The
prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”
3. Am I ignoring a sin? Unforgiven sin hinders prayer. See
Psalm 66:18 and 1 Peter 3:7. If God is not answering your
prayer, it may be that you are not admitting a sin.
4. Am I being patient? Sometimes, it takes months or years
before God answers a request because the time is not right
or it may take a long time to answer. Can
you think of biblical examples where prayers took years
to be answered?
5. Am I listening? Perhaps God is giving an answer and you
do not perceive it.
6. Am I doing my part? God often requires effort from you
also. Consider the student who prays for good exam results,
then neglects to study. The Lord may not listen if you are
not willing to do your part.
• Prayer is an extremely important part of a believer’s
life in Christ and before baptism.
• If your attitude is right, God will listen.
• God has promised to give whatever we ask if we believe
and allow God’s word to remain in us.
• Keep your prayers simple and specific. Include praise,
confession, thanks and requests.
1. Read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Why did God grant Jabez’s
request for more land and an easy life? Would you feel comfortable
asking God for these things?
2. Helen prays for a closer relationship with God but fills
her time with trashy music and novels. Jim prays he will win
the lottery. Comment on what is wrong with each of these examples.
3. Jesus warns against using meaningless repetition or empty
phrases in prayer. How can you avoid this?
4. What does it mean to pray in the “name of Jesus”?
Do you need to include these words in a prayer before God
5. Is it appropriate for believers today to pray for specific
direction or signs?
6. What can you do to stop your thoughts drifting in prayer?
7. What did Paul mean when he wrote “pray continually”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17)?
1. Read James 5:14-16; Acts 1:14; 12:5,12. On each of these
occasions, “prayer meetings” are mentioned where
believers have gathered together specifically for prayer.
What are the benefits of praying in groups like this? If you
haven’t ever participated in a prayer meeting, why not?
If you have participated in a prayer meeting, did you find
2. List examples in the Bible of people praying for others.
For example, see Luke 6:28; Colossians 4:3; James 5:16; Job
42:8. Compile a list of people you will pray for in the next
3. Write about one page describing the role of prayer in your
life. Include examples of answered prayers and discuss some
specific steps you can take to improve your praying.
• Too busy not to pray by Bill Hybels, (published by
Intervarsity Press, 1988). 161 pages. This book is easy to
read and an excellent motivator for making your prayers live.
He provides many practical suggestions for developing a good
prayer habit. But note that some of the doctrinal material
in this book is incorrect.
• The new life by John Marshall (published by The Christadelphian,
1971), Chapter 13. 9 pages.
• Prayer: studies in principle and practice by Melva
Purkis and Cyril Tennant (published by The Christadelphian,
1971). 94 pages. This is a thoughtful book looking at examples
of prayer in the Bible and drawing lessons from them.
• The genius of discipleship by Dennis Gillett (published
by The Christadelphian, 1984). Chapters 12-13. 10 pages.
• Reformation, by Harry Whittaker (published by Biblia,
1985). Chapters 4, 24 and 25 cover personal and congregational
• BBB Study 5
29. Forgiving one another
39. What is Jesus doing now?
52. Led by the Spirit